Candles have been used for light and fragrance for centuries, but they continue to remain popular decorative and household items today. The United States is one of the largest markets for candles in the world, with sales totaling around $3.14 billion annually. When it comes to what consumers want from their candles in the U.S. market, there are several key factors driving preferences.
Fragrance is one of the most important considerations for consumers shopping for candles. Scented candles now make up over 80% of candle sales in the U.S. market, indicating that scent is a major priority. Consumers have a vast array of fragrance options to choose from, spanning floral, fruity, spicy, fresh, and woody aromas. Popular top-selling fragrances include clean linens, vanilla, lavender, eucalyptus mint, mahogany teakwood, cedarwood, and lemon. Shoppers are drawn to scents that they find appealing, relaxing, energizing or reminiscent of fond memories. The fragrance a consumer chooses reflects personal taste and mood.
Beyond fragrance, burn time has become increasingly important to consumers. Many shoppers look for candles that provide long burn times to get more for their money. Large “single-wick” candles often provide burn times of 60-80 hours or more. Multi-wick candles, containing 3 wicks or more, can provide even longer burn times of up to 120 hours. Consumers want candles that will last longer without having to be frequently replaced. Brands have responded by engineering candles with ingredients and wicks that maximize burn time.
Consumers also prioritize candles made from natural, eco-friendly ingredients. Natural soy, vegetable, and beeswax candles have surged in popularity for their biodegradable and renewable qualities. Shoppers avoid paraffin wax due to concerns over emissions from petroleum-derived ingredients. Sustainably sourced ingredients and recycled or reusable packaging appeal to consumers seeking greener options. Many brands now offer 100% soy candles or beeswax candles to align with consumer values.
In addition to performance features like fragrance, burn time, and natural ingredients, aesthetics and decorative appeal have a strong influence. Candles come in an endless array of styles, shapes, colors, and designs to serve both functional and decorative purposes. Simple cylinders or rounds remain popular for their versatility, while more ornate sculptural, geometric, or floral shaped candles stand out as accents. Consumers use candles to enhance ambiance, complement home décor, or showcase personal style. Interesting vessels, finishes, embellishments, and color palettes give consumers more design choices.
Convenience and ease of use are other factors affecting consumer preferences. Pre-filled and self-contained candles need no assembly and can be lit instantly. Contained wax candles with infused wicks eliminate drips and mess. Battery-operated flameless candles offer the ambience of candles without actual fire. Pillar candles, votives, and tealights conveniently fit any candle holder or surface. Consumers seek out candles that are safe, long-lasting, and easy to incorporate into their homes and routines.
With growth steady around 5-6% annually, the U.S. candle market continues to thrive. Consumers are drawn to high-performing, better-for-you candles that fit their lifestyles. By delivering on features like signature scents, clean ingredients, beautiful design and effortless use, brands can provide the optimal candles consumers desire. Thecandle shopping experience combines utility and enjoyment, as consumers look for products reflecting their tastes, values, and personalities. The diversity and innovation in the candle market caters to the wide range of preferences among American consumers.